Re-collecting Memories • the third dozen

1984       25         Camp Howze, Korea - SGT - decision time: reenlist? - last 3 years "for family" have been thankless - learned no skills applicable to a civilian job - rare personnel fluke permits reenlisting to retrain into the MP corps.  Finally...a career decision for myself!  Optimistic.  Eager.                 
                            Camp Howze, Korea - SP4 -  barracks is an open-bay Korean-war era quonset hut - after curfew, PFC Redbird wakes me up with his stereo - for many weeks I turn it off after he passes out (so I can sleep) - one night he turns it back on - we fight - I smash the boombox - he smashes me - I learn the folly of punching a drunk.  Bruised and beat.  Forced to replace a stereo.  Seriously reprimanded.  Three times a loser.
1985       26         Fort McClellan, Alabama - SGT - MP school - provided a hotel in Anniston, Alabama (with other sergeants) to reduce the chances of us fraternizing with the junior trainees - third week of training: a stunning private in a tight t-shirt flirts with me - we secretly meet every subsequent weekend until graduation.  Bold.  Attractive.  Exhilarated.  Desired.  
                            Fort Stewart, Georgia - SGT - I purchase a Hondamatic motorcycle - with all my post-divorce possessions strapped to it, I drive 500 miles - the skin on my arms above my normal tan receives a serious second degree sunburn.  Scarred.  Stupid.  Permanently freckled.
1986       27         Fort Stewart, Georgia - SGT - driver during a 45 minute top-speed pursuit - sheriff deputies from neighboring counties assist - recover the stolen car - no one injured (thieves escape on foot into the forest).  Unequaled adrenaline rush.  Excited.  Euphoric.
                            Fort Stewart, Georgia - SGT - break up a "bar fight" - left thigh punctured in the scuffle, about an inch deep, by a small pocket knife - in order to avoid being reprimanded (failing to thoroughly search a suspect) I tell no one about the stabbing - doctor my own leg - patch my uniform.  Sheepish.  Careless.  Lucky but dumb. 
1987       28         Yongsan, Korea - SGT - assigned investigator duties (from uniformed desk sergeant duty) - civilian clothes - unmarked vehicles - additional training - more responsibilities - less regimentation.  Proud.  Professional.  Important. 
                            Yongsan, Korea - SGT - step off a public bus in downtown Seoul - as my right foot touches the curb, I experience a migraine (or mini-stroke) - the pain lasts less than a second - knees buckle - the most excruciating burst of blazing electric white I can conceive of.  Dizzy.  Relieved.  Certain I'd have ended my own life to stop it, if it had endured for any length of time.  Frightened.      
1988       29         Yongsan, Korea - SGT - free tickets to the summer Olympics in Seoul - trackside when Florence Griffith Joyner (Flo-Jo) wins one of her gold medals.  Not present when Greg Louganis struck the diving board with his head.  Enthusiastic.  Patriotic.  Happy.
                             Yongsan, Korea - SGT - my application to become a CID agent is returned disapproved - 'derogatory background check' is the stated reason.  Crushed.  Incredulous.  Defeated (I have already turned down promotion twice to qualify for this position).
1989       30         Yongsan, Korea - SGT - granted Top Secret (TS) security clearance - FOIA request my background documents: no derog info - confused by the dichotomy, I re-apply and request an official review - approved for CID special agent school - "suspicion of adultery" was rationale for initial disapproval (based solely on the coincidence of my '85 return from Korea and subsequent divorce and my marriage to a Korean a year later).  Elated.  Persistence paid-off.  Vindicated.
                            Yongsan, Korea - SGT - a week away from departure, my extremely distressed and confused, mentally handicapped, indoor-only cat escaped from the pet carrier (as we are heading to the veterinarian) - all efforts to catch him fail - left him on the streets of Seoul.  Culpable.  Downhearted.  Glum. 
1990       31         Columbus, Georgia - SGT - pick up a wadded bill from the floor of the Fort Benning movie theater - after the film, I discover it's a fifty.  Sad for the person who lost it.  Rationalize keeping it by telling myself: 'only an idiot wads up a fifty dollar bill and jams it in their pocket'.  Fortuitous.
                            Columbus, Georgia - SGT - my unit deploys to Saudi Arabia for Desert Shield - unaccredited agents (like me) must remain behind - my new task is to efficiently terminate every "less serious" case - I close more than 80 in four weeks - admonished by the operations officer for continuing to investigate a soldier-on-civilian rape allegation - I question him - he replies, "she's just a Korean...they're all whores...close it...immediately".  Blindsided.  Aghast.  Offended.  Hamstrung by my probationary status.  Disillusioned.  
1991       32         Columbus, Georgia - SSG - double eagle (three under par) on the final par 5 of the Bradley golf course - from the white tee: average drive, middle of the fairway - perfect 3 wood second shot - slight uphill, over 250 yards, hit the flagstick - rolls in the hole for a 2.  Astonished.  Flabbergasted.  Quite pleased with my once-in-a-lifetime shot.     
                            Columbus, Georgia - SSG - attempt to repair my acrimonious eight-year estrangement with my (bigoted) immediate family - vacation in Indiana - introduce my wife of five years - no one (including me) can let bygones become water under the bridge.  Tense.  Vexed.  Ill at ease.
1992       33         Columbus, Georgia - SSG - most tumultuous year - 3 relationships (divorce, affair, marriage) - 3 assignments (personal crimes, duty team, economic crimes) - 3 schools (fraud investigations, protective services, hostage negotiations) - everything happening at once - living life in the heavily occupied vehicle lane (speeding past my peers).  Glad it all happened.  Amazed to experience/accomplish so much so fast.       
                            Columbus, Georgia - SSG - personal compass needle spinning - too much too fast - living life according to the whim of hormones and the schedule of supervisors.  Weary.  Crazy.  Glad to put it all behind.
1993       34         Mons, Belgium - WO1 - graduate from warrant officer candidate school - assigned to General Shalikashvilli's protection detail - diplomatic passport - upgraded security clearance (TS-SCI).  Enjoy the unexpected perks of constant travel.  Superior.  Elite. 
                            Mons, Belgium - WO1 - complete staff turnover - new SACEUR - all new supervisors (who've never heard the phrase: if it's not broken don't fix it).  Discouraged.  Worried.
1994       35         Mons, Belgium - WO1 - Athens and the Aegean islands, Moscow, Oslo, Florence, Venice, Garmish, Berlin, London, Amsterdam, Dresden, Lake Geneva.  Busy.  Worldly.  Amazed.  Awestruck.
                            Mons, Belgium - WO1 - Lisbon, Sarajevo, Istanbul, Livorno, Izmir, Norfolk, Harrisburg, Dijon, Ukraine.  Tired of babysitting a couple of pretentious adults.  More wary of back stabbing co-workers and fumbling foreign police than terrorists.  Concerned.  Cautious.  Disdainful.  
1995       36         Mons, Belgium - CW2 - off leash, Cody—my new dog—will heel, sit, stay, come, lie down and fetch - still working on jumping, climbing, eating only with permission and barking only on command - we run together for miles every week - always looking for new challenges to teach my new playmate.  Ecstatic when training is successful.  Happy when he's pleased.
                            Mons, Belgium - CW2 - slip on a throw rug in my living room, land on my elbow and break my left arm - surgery - metal plate - terrible hospital (almost die from a previously unknown allergy to morphine-based pain med.) - worse surgeon (sharp heads of the 8 countersunk screws aren't sunk into the plate, points of six of the screws protrude through the bone) - office flunky during rehab.  Embarrassed.  Miserable.  Bad health still about every 15-years (see 1979 and 1964).  Most stressful series of experiences. 

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